Tag Archives: facebook

Recession Woes in Recruting? Get Personal with Prospective Students

As the economy continues to affect the ability of prospective international students (and domestic students for that matter) to afford tuition, we all know how important it is to turn as many accepted students as possible into deposits. NPR has an ongoing series this week investigating the impact of the economy on higher education. One of the pieces titled, Colleges Work Harder to Lure New Students shows how some schools are employing traditional marketing initiatives to create personal connections with accepted students.

Let’s take a look at one of the techniques described in this article and see how we might be able to enhance it through the use of social media!

Becker College in Worcester, MA is having a group of freshman students call prospective students encouraging them to apply to the school as well as calling accepted students and selling them on enrolling in the school. This is an absolutely great idea because it is all about creating personal connections. Current students are able to answer any questions the prospective student may have about the social life, academics, ect. while being able to have a great impact on the decision making of the student due to their ability to easily relate to one another as students.

So how can we take this model and potentially make it more effective? The millennial generation prospective student thrives off of personal connection. If you don’t believe me ask one of your students how many friends they have on Facebook, AIM, MSN Instant Messenger, cell phone book and so on. These millennials love to interact quickly whether it is a status update on Facebook, a wall post on Facebook, text message, a chat conversation on AIM, etc.

So if this is the type of conversation that these prospective students embrace why not get in touch with them this way as well as over the phone?

One idea is to continue leveraging the ability of your current students to personally connect with your prospective students via social networks. Have your current students ‘friend’ these prospective students on Facebook and Orkut and begin conversations that way. This medium of connection can prove to be so much more effective becuase not only can students verbally interact but they can share links to blogs, videos, podcasts, websites, Facebook page, online applicatoin and any other convincing material you want to share with prospective students.

It’s also important to understand how effective the results can be when we the admissions office take the initiative to get in touch with students! Think about this point when you are creating your Facebook page, YouTube channel, podcast page, blog and aren’t getting the results that you expected.

In order to achieve results we need to take the initiative to get in touch with our audience! If we can take anything away from this difficult recessionary period it should be to realize how effective our recruiting can be when we make an effort to get personal with our prospective students!

Photo by Aussiegall

Social Media is not a Waste of your Admissions Office’s Time

Not only is our interaction with students via social networks going to grow but the fact of the matter is that it is much more effective to interact with students via social networks and here’s why…

Many admissions recruiters have this idea that social media (web 2.0) is not a productive use of time.  One example of this is the apprehension admissions offices have of setting up a Facebook page.  Some of the offices I have spoken with feel that if they run a Facebook page they will be wasting time having to moderate slanderous comments left by visitors or even have to interact with more prospective students.

Rather than worrying about having to respond to all these comments positive or negative we should realize that these interactions are a great opportunity for us to reach tens, hundreds even thousands of prospective students!

Let’s imagine we are in New Delhi giving a presentation about our school to a group of 100 prospective international students.  100 students are sitting, listening attentively to how our school offers international students a life changing experience.  We talk about how our school is connected to job opportunities in various fields like, the sciences, engineering and finance.  We talk about how easy it is to get involved in the current international student community.  We talk about how many great international student events and student groups there are.

As we wrap up the presentation we ask if anyone has any questions.  One student raises their hand and asks ‘I want to know what I can do to improve my chances of being accepted to your school.  What kind of extracurricular activities do you like to see?  Which test scores do you look at closely?  What range of scores would give me the best chance of being accepted?’

As we prepare to answer this question we think if it would be easier to talk to the student one on one after the presentation or if we should answer the student right there and then?  This decision is a very important one!!!

If we decide to answer this question right there and then, 100 people get to hear our answer.  That is 99 more than if we answer the students question after the presentation!  Remember how our teachers in school would tell us not to be afraid to ask a question because 10 other people in the class probably have the same question? Well the same goes here, there are many other students with similar questions who might be afraid to ask so it is always important to answer as many questions as we can in front of as many people as we can.

So how does this relate to social media (web 2.0)?  Say on our Facebook page someone writes a comment on our wall asking the same question as above.  Or consider someone posts a comment about our school that is false and we now have to take a few minutes to share the truth.  By answering the question or the comment on our wall (not a private message or e-mail) it is as if we are answering that question in front of a large audience like in New Delhi.  Just because we are responding to one student doesn’t mean that tens, hundreds, even thousands of other students aren’t reading our answer!

Think about that for a minute.  Any time we respond to a comment left on one of our photos, videos, wall, etc. there is a possibility that there are tens, hundreds, even thousands of people who are reading what we write!

That is the power of social media (web 2.0).  Even though we aren’t aware of all the people who are reading what we write on Facebook, the effect of our communication via that medium is much more effective than writing e-mails or private messages in response to each individual student’s question or comment.

Consider this thought:

E-mail response = 1 person hearing the answer to a question

Social media response = tens, hundreds, or even thousands of people hearing the answer to a question!

Which do you prefer?

Photo by Hoong Wei Long

Social Media for International Admissions: Either Get In the Game or Get Out

There has been a lot of conversation over the past day and a half regarding this 2013 ‘Facebookgate’ scandal.  If you haven’t heard yet, the full investigative report from Brad J. Ward can be found on his blog at www.squaredpeg.com.

If you want the quick overview, College Prowler may have crossed the vague lines of ethical Facebook use when they created unofficial class of 2013 groups for various US educational institutions.  College Prowler’s interns were in turn the admins of these groups hence controlling the flow of mass information to the group’s student members.

As Brad points out, while this isn’t a big deal if this were only done with one school, the fact that they had created groups for many schools and many students were joining each group, the potential power over the flow of information to a very valuable target market was in College Prowler’s control (they were definitely seeing dollar signs in their eyes)

I see this as a wake up call and an opportunity to point out how important it is for institutions to be of the conversations about their schools on the internet.  The social web in which we live and participate is an ongoing conversation.  A conversation that can’t be had unless all parties are willing to participate.  Yes that mean you too admissions offices!!!

Institutions need to understand that it isn’t enough just to have a username and profile of a social network like Facebook or to have an account on Twitter.  We need to be active participants of these mediums and not defer to our students to lead the initiatives on these internet services.  We now see what can happen when we leave our voices out of the conversation.

I think Brad and all the others who participated in the investigation of ‘Facebookgate’ would agree that without collaborative tech like Twitter and Google docs this investigation would have taken much longer and may have never been uncovered (imagine trying to use e-mail to have a conversation amongst hundreds of people).  So what does that say about the usefulness of social media?

If there is something to be learned today (other than karma is alive and well) it is that institutions can no longer sit on the fence with social media.  We either have to committ or get out of the game (and unfortuantely getting out of the game isn’t really an option).  So if you are going to be on Facebook, be a part of the conversations that relate to your school!

I think ultimately we will find that although we have to work a little harder to overcome the learning curve of new social media, in the long term it will make our jobs more fulfilling.  But more importantly actively using social media will create a college admissions experience that the Gen Y prospective student demands!

I do want to congratulate Brad and everyone else who participated in the investigation.  It is great to see the power of social media when used for good!